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I was thinking of exploring Lovecraftian horror the other day, and the thought occurred to me: say a couple decades after the American civil war, there was a certain city in New England of 10,000 people whose inhabitants committed atrocities, summoned beings so heinous and devolved into creatures themselves over time that the government decided to strike any reference of said city from all records and demolished any and all roads leading there.

Is it possible to keep such a governmental conspiracy going at least until the late 20th century, given the full might and resources of the United States government before they resort to destroying it outright to keep it's existence safe from the advent of technology?

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  • $\begingroup$ Please edit the question and explain what exactly it is that you are asking. As written, the question is about a "conspiracy" which appears out of nowhere in the last sentence; who formed the conspiracy, what were their aims, what means did they employ to achieve said aims? Please note that (almost by definition) the government cannot be part of a "conspiracy"; for purposes somewhat similar to those of a conspiracy governments use perfectly legal means such as classification, legislation, forces of repression etc. Members of the government can be conspirators, but that's quite different. $\endgroup$ – AlexP May 16 '17 at 17:13
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site. As @AlexP mentioned this question could use a little more detail to be effectively answered. Where (more specifically) would this city be? Who is allowed to know about it? What resources do the ring leaders of this conspiracy have at their disposal to continue the ruse? $\endgroup$ – James May 16 '17 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ I would also qualify what the conspirators are willing to do. If they are willing to murder a lot of people in the surrounding area my answer would be way different than if they are not willing to... $\endgroup$ – James May 16 '17 at 18:12
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    $\begingroup$ This question doesn't seem overly broad to me. The US government is conspiring to keep the city secret, and will presumably do all of the things that the US government has done in the past. Can they hide a city full of cultists for 150+ years? $\endgroup$ – ckersch May 16 '17 at 18:17
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    $\begingroup$ Are you talking about the city still being there and people living in it or are you talking about the city being destroyed and the government covering up the existence? Also, of course it would be possible, shouldn't you ask how? And another point: There is something supernatural going on, at that point anything is possible if you say so. Make them cast a spell - problem solved. Please explain the rules of your world. $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 May 17 '17 at 12:03
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Absolutely

In fact, there are multiple Reverse Bielefeld Conspiracies going on right now, across multiple locations in the US, and many more abroad. There are 3 locations in Maine, 1 in Washington and 1 in Arizona that I am currently aware of. (shh, don't tell anyone)

Most actually do show up on (high resolution) maps, it's just that the roads leading up to them tend to end in a combination of broken bridges, turn into riverbeds or are littered with boulders, and are far, far away from the main highways (which were carefully designed around them) and surrounded by (regrowth) forests with shrubbery (where the Blight does not prevent it) or military grade razor wire fences.

The most recent US incident (among those in the know) was the major (Grade 3) failed summoning by the infamous Hanford Five in 1944. It is speculated that a partial differential mistake which resulted in an improperly configured protective mantra was to blame. Spatiotemporal distortions still prevent unshielded electronic devices from functioning properly within 2 miles of the summoning circle epicenter. Acting on advice from the Wheel group, the government surrounded the summoning site with nuclear waste facilities and sealed the area indefinitely.

Only one of them (in Arizona, and spanning across the Mexican border) has been actively wiped from the maps. The wiping actually dates from the State of Deseret days - thought to be a failed (Grade 4) divine invocation by a splinter group of radical Mormons. Besides the usual flickering Rip Portal, the incident also produced a 50 mile radius blight, which has only slowly and partially degraded over to mere desert over the past 160 years. As entering the blight area without proper protective wards is usually fatal within hours, the desert and the blight area have been generally avoided by the locals. Honduran and Nicaraguan immigrants without good coyote-guides sometimes attempt to enter through the area, and occasionally torn pieces of clothing and shoes are driven by the wind or wild animals towards populated areas.

There are special adjustments made to all satellite imagery produced in the US. There are secret international agreements to conceal such areas, since such locations are present in many locations across the world. For instance, satellite imagery by any of the major powers and commercial enterprises located within their reach will only show a standard "concrete Tomb" over the partially closed Chernobyl portal. I have gained access to North Korean imagery revealing the central hellscape surrounded by blight, and it is not pretty.

While I am normally in favor of free flow of information, when it comes to such abominations, decent people shouldn’t think too much about that.

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  • $\begingroup$ You ought to link Reverse Bielefeld Conspiracies $\endgroup$ – JDługosz May 16 '17 at 19:39
  • $\begingroup$ Do we want answers based on this reality? $\endgroup$ – Andrey May 16 '17 at 21:27
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    $\begingroup$ Is last sentence a deliberate SMAC reference? It nicely combines intro and Supercollider wonder quote. $\endgroup$ – M i ech May 17 '17 at 14:54
  • $\begingroup$ awesome. This reads like something off the S.C.P site. $\endgroup$ – Willk May 22 '17 at 1:44
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The US has closed off towns before

Adapt the model used for Hanford during the Manhattan Project. Or maybe you model it after Centralia, which was condemned in the 1990s due to coal fires in the mines that had been burning since the 1960s (if that doesn't evoke a similar feel to what you're going for...)

Early on, your job is easy

Most roads of any real distance were privately owned turnpikes during the late 1700s and early 1800s. Until the 1890s.

The Office of Road Inquiry (ORI) within the Department of Agriculture was established in 1893, headed by Civil War hero General Roy Stone. It had a budget of $10,000 to promote new rural road development, which at that time were mostly dirt roads. Source

So it would be a trivial task to wash out a bridge or two, spread some rumors of fire, Indian attacks, or disease in nearby towns to discourage curiosity, and then quietly station guards on logical routes into your town to prevent exiting or entering the area.

It would be easier if your town is mountainous, since that naturally limits the entry points and makes it easier to choke those off from explorers.

But it will get harder

As your timeline progresses, the task will get harder. The advent of the Model T encouraged driving, which encouraged better, paved, roads, which encouraged more driving. Population pressure encouraged settlers to stretch out. Towns grew. Farms reclaimed land. If you're in the US and east of the Mississippi River, there's really no where to hide a town except in the most difficult to reach mountain passes of the Smokey Mntns. Anything else has enough people by WWI that they'd have probably have found your community.

By WWI and WWII, the threat of disease or curse or whatever will no longer deter anyone. So you're left with a few hard-to-reach corners of the mountains or out west. Alaska, of course. Or the Rocky Mountain region. Or the southwest desert. Inhospitable areas with low population density.

Flight ramps it up even more

With the advent of reliable commercial flight, your odds of hiding a town shrink to infinitesimal odds. I've met professional pilot/photographers who go door to door selling aerial photos of properties. Once a pilot can fly anywhere they want, eventually someone would notice. Then they'd wonder why the town isn't on their maps.

Sure, you can route federal and even state highways around a dead zone. But you can't stop flyovers. So now you're talking about somehow creating no-fly zones but also not increasing curiosity because of those zones. Tricky stuff.

I guess you could build a military base around your town's borders. Many bases are large enough to hide a small town. And they are usually no-fly zones for security reasons. Anyone on post might get curious, but a fence with a guard who requires anyone who enters to have specific security clearances will stop the curious in their tracks. Plus now there's a military presence in case of problems from the town.

Commercial satellite imagery is the end

Once you have Google Maps, there's no way to prevent someone from seeing evidence of your town. I mean, I guess you could disguise the roofs, but that's pretty difficult. And if your town has been cut off since the 1800s, the odds are the residents are all basically Amish in technology and wouldn't have any understanding as to why they should plant grass on their roofs, somehow hide any chimneys, and take care not to have roads or paths between buildings.

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    $\begingroup$ I was going to add pretty much what you said .... there are many "ghost" towns, communes, etc. that are invisible and in plain sight. One formula is ... Interstate roadway, a point of presence near the roadway that is ok to be visible and provides the essential services. The town is 5 to 10 miles away in the middle of no where. You have "controlled" contact/interface and your able to maintain seclusion. $\endgroup$ – Enigma Maitreya May 17 '17 at 13:32
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  1. Cities are in no way, shape or form self-sufficient. Thus, if you sealed it off, enterprising residents (pseudo-blockade runners) would soon travel cross-country to get food and other supplies from others.
  2. The people that these pseudo-blockade runners buy from would ask where they came from, and... most importantly...
  3. MEMORY. People from nearby towns, farms, etc plus people from outside the city who have relative in the city will REMEMBER.

Now, if this were Stalinist USSR then such an erasure would be (relatively) easier to pull off, since the aforementioned people from nearby towns, farms, etc plus people from outside the city who have relative in the city will know enough to keep their mouths shut if they didn't want to be eliminated themselves.

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Cover it up with something else... Something scary

Do you really know what's going on at the Hanford Site? Supposedly all the riverside reactors are shutdown with all the auxiliary buildings torn down. But there are still vast complexes, many underground (e.g. the 200 and 300 areas) and tens of thousands of people who work there. They are supposedly all engaged in cleanup. But if you look at the numbers, the cleanup of Hanford alone is expected to cost 3-4 times the entire cost of the Manhattan Project, yes, adjusted for inflation. Look it up.

And we all shrug "well, nuclear cleanup is mysterious and scary so naturally it must be very expensive" and we're all OK with that. But think of the size of the thing it could be a cover for... Someting gosh, like a Manhattan Project...

And just as Hanford was located there for ready access to hydroelectric power, whatever is going on there also has that same access.

The government has plenty of suitable sites

Mind you, that's just Hanford. Same applies to other Manhattan Project and Cold War sites like Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Savannah River (or for that matter Livermore). Lawrence Berkeley Lab is still a DoE lab but no longer does secret work and is conspicuously open (you can walk right onto campus)... but even so, it's a baby Black Mesa. What is under that mountain? Explore it sometime and compare its size to Oak Ridge or Hanford. Those are the real Black Mesa's.

How about others like the NSA's massive data processing complex in Tooele. It was surveiling the American public and they told it to "knock it off". Suddenly a huge amount of surveillence and data processing capacity is freed up... And it's still being expanded! Nature abhors a vacuum... Somebody's doing something with that. Get on Google Earth history mode and compare the parking lots pre- and post-Snowden.

How about those decommissioned aircraft carriers sitting at the very busy Newport News and Bremerton facilities? I'll grant you, people would notice a buzz of new activity at sleepy Mount Weather or the Cheyenne Mountain. But what about the Greenbrier? It's an active hotel and people come and go all the time. Or the aircraft parking lot in Tucson. What if thaey're parked on the roof? How many basement levels does the Pentagon have?

You could hide a large operation in any of those places, and the traffic needed to support a city would be masked by the normal activities in the area. Would anyone really notice if food and materiél to support a secret city of 20,000 was daily shipped into the UC Berkeley/LBL complex? They already support like 60,000.

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This is going to be tricky, but maybe not impossible.

Start by dealing with the physical evidence. Depending on where the nearby villages are, you might torch it, or just bring in a bunch of draft horses and pull everything down. Break down as much evidence as you can of human habitations. Splinter up any worked wood, break up masonry and scatter it in the nearest river. Then plow it all under.

Your next step would be to make the former site and surrounding land as undesirable as possible. Salt the living heck out of it. Divert some nearby creeks through the area to make it swamplike. Whatever you like best. This is extremely important. If the land isn't useful, it will discourage visitors and curious folks.

All of this labor is going to have to be done by a dedicated cabal of people in leadership positions along with a bunch of laborer that are preferably immigrants who don't speak English. Maybe import a bunch of Chinese from San Francisco.They won't know what happened and couldn't really talk to anyone about what they were there doing.

That is the easy part taken care of. Your real problem is going to be controlling the information from getting out. Manipulating records is a good start. Take any census information you might have about the inhabitants of the unfortunate place and then "relocate" them to other towns or states Leave as many false trails as you can, so curious family members who try to hunt them down go off in the wrong directions. A few convenient fires in records halls might help with this as well.

As for the locals of nearby towns, put the fear of God into them for at least a generation, maybe two. Anybody who mentions the unfortunate place goes on a short trip and comes home with a few new scars sort of thing. Investigators who ask too many questions will have to go missing in the "new" swamp or some such.

Finally, around generation 3, the Cabal arranges for the surrounding acreage to be set up as a training ground, with the actual site as a place for munitions testing. This should put you between WWI and WWII. This should complete your paper trail cover up. The land in question is now notable for being something else entirely. Living memory of past events is now so faded as to be irrelevant. At this point, anyone who actually tries to talk about the horrible events will be laughed at. There is no more physical evidence, no records, and now, no desire to go out to a place where bombs are being tested to find out.

Hopefully, the combination of misinformation, elimination of physical evidence, and then use as a place to make stuff go bang will systematically erase the site from humanity.

Of course, you may also be giving creatures from the beyond high explosives in the end there, but that's a different problem for future generations.

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  • $\begingroup$ The question strongly implies not destroying the city, but just isolating it. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn May 16 '17 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ @RonJohn, hmm...I didn't get that implication at all. Leaving structures alone is going to mean that someone is going to find them sooner or later. A hunter, trapper, or just some curious kids with a talking dog. $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI May 16 '17 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ And the people. Nothing about wiping them out, either. "The government decided to strike any reference of said city from all records and demolished any and all roads leading there." $\endgroup$ – RonJohn May 16 '17 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ I figure a Lovecraftian episode would leave few survivors and those would be recruited into the cabal or hopelessly insane $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI May 17 '17 at 11:43
  • $\begingroup$ This is why cogent questions are so important... :) $\endgroup$ – RonJohn May 18 '17 at 2:08
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It can be done, but it is hard. It should be masked by a different activity.

For example, it can be some factory, next to the Mexican border, working with many legal and illegal migrants.

Below the factory, you can have your hidden city. It shouldn't even have to be dug in the ground. The black & dirty activites can happen anywhere, for example in a closed, abandoned store.

Migrants should be employed by intremediaries, outsourcing companies, and they should often come and go away (for example, to different sites of the same company, or back to Mexico, or any similar). It would serve to hide the fact, that some of them is sacrificed to Cthulhu by the company management.

Story idea:

Most of the mexicans are Catholics, so you can have some good catholic priest tring to investigate this evil. Of course, also he can be partially go crazy by the evil of the place.

So, first he would think, there is only the common sources of evil in the factory: we all want money, won't work, and similar. Initially, he wouldn't think there is any supernatural here. He then would experience, that there is much more evil as on the previous places he operates.

So, he would start some investigation. But, an essential part of the story would be: because meanwhile also he goes mad, he don't take notice that something is not okay. Thus, while he investigates and find more and more serious things, it will be pretty clear for the readers that this hero isn't normal long ago. But, he would act and think as if everything would be okay and he would do only common clerical tasks.

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  • $\begingroup$ Mexico is pretty far from New England! Your specific ideas don’t match the question. Can you change it to Québec instead? $\endgroup$ – JDługosz May 16 '17 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ @JDługosz Yes, although I think in this case the story could happen around a hundred years ago (at the time, this region was full with European newcomers). $\endgroup$ – Gray Sheep May 17 '17 at 17:37
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You probably don't want to cut contact. Keep an eye on them. But do move them.

So, put them in a very remote part of a military training complex. No civilians can go there. Area 51 is for the public eye, this two levels more secure.

Place this village in a valley so no easy line of sight. Put up multiple rings with wire & armed guards on the other side of the hills. Pretend there is a bunker with leaking nuclear stuff.

Give the inhabitants pre-industrial tools and no electricity so they don't need much from the outside. Only one entrance & exit for the stuff they can't make them self. And while we are at it, force sterilise everyone. Those kids can be a handful.

History: Why bother with all this when you can force march them a trail of tears.

*Or once you have nukes, use the old city as a ground zero for the new toys you just created. Should keep people out for some more time.

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